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Ellen Rohr joins ServiceTitan with a goal of "making lives great for the people who work in the trades"

Pat McManamon
June 6th, 2024
5 Min Read

Ellen Rohr calls herself one of the OGs of the trades, and in her case it’s a badge of honor.

“Once upon a time, I was that young kid, super eager, listening at every meeting,” Rohr said in a recent interview. “Now I'm the old salt, and it's been such a great journey all the way through.”

That journey has taken her through a challenging learning process to successful startups to leadership in large organizations. It has also made her a leading advocate for the trades, and built businesses into wildly successful ventures.

Rohr’s newest role: Joining ServiceTitan as Brand and Industry Marketing Lead.

“I believe honorable, profitable businesses expand peace, prosperity and freedom,” she said.

Laudable goals, but with Ellen Rohr nothing seems out of reach.

“Ellen brings a stellar list of accomplishments in her career,” said Andrew Nicoletta, Senior Manager for Content Marketing at ServiceTitan. “Few others match her industry knowledge, professional network, and tenacity for the trades to adopt technology. We are so lucky to call her a ServiceTitan team member.”

Breathing room

One of the emphases Rohr will share is one that her mentors shared with her: Understand financial literacy. But she had a more clever way to put it.

“Figure out the money, honey,” she said. “Then you have a little breathing room. Then you can ask bigger questions.”

Rohr started in the trades as the wife of Bob “Hot Rod” Rohr. She had a degree from the University of San Diego in Business Administration, and Hot Rod had a small, local plumbing business. When Hot Rod’s partner died tragically at 33, she joined the company.

She immediately reached out to Frank Blau, another OG who has helped so many in the trades. He told her she absolutely had to have a laser focus on the money coming in and going out. Once she did that, the business became profitable.

She asked Hot Rod about growth, which she favored. He preferred to stay small. In 1995, he sold the business to the employees.

Soon after, Rohr started Bare Bones Biz, a consulting firm that helps ideas become successful entities. In 2001 she and a group of investors started Benjamin Franklin, the Punctual Plumber, an entity that grew to $40 million and 47 locations in less than two years. In 2017, she was co-founder of Zoom Drain Franchising, which now has more than 50 locations.

She’s written books, given motivational talks, and spread her wisdom through numerous speeches and interviews nationally. She and Hot Rod have been married 40 years and have a son Max, daughter-in-law, Juliana, and granddaughter Lucca.

Confronting reality

She said she believes in facing financial numbers head-on, in confronting reality. She learned that when Blau challenged her on what she called her “stinking thinking.”  Blau and his good friend George Brazil eventually taught her to charge by the job, not by the hour.

As she put it during a ServiceTitan webinar in 2021, understanding the numbers helped Rohr “figure out my asset from my elbow.”

Her role with ServiceTitan means she will back away from the day-to-day at Zoom Drain and its franchises (but remain on the board). She made the decision because she feels through ServiceTitan and her outreach she can have an impact on every single person in the trades.

Not surprising from a woman who immersed herself in her business by going on at least 200 ride-alongs with technicians (though she wishes she’d done more).

“I think that why I do what I do has everything to do with making lives great for the people who work in the trades,” Rohr said. “And that's starting with the front line, the technicians, call takers, dispatchers, everyone in the office—the people who are actually running the machine every day.”

She also hopes to expand roles for women and other under-represented communities in the trades.

“So often the focus becomes on the owners, and that's terrific, the owners are great,” she said. “But to also bring to the party that front line, to make sure that they see what kind of awesome careers can be found in the trades. The better our businesses are, the more that we can expand that opportunity. That's really the why.”

You don’t need ‘a zillion KPIs’

She will emphasize understanding the financials, a sound business plan, and will focus on questions like: What are we doing? Why are we doing it? Who’s going to participate? Who are we doing it for? What do we want to happen, and when?

“I'm absolutely driven by the few numbers that make all the difference,” she said. “The simplest system. I'm really turned off by a zillion KPIs. There is not a KPI out there that we don't know about that makes any difference. We've got enough.

“So just trying to simplify these systems, the money and the plan. Those are the two ways that I think I can add some spirit and some content and some energy to ServiceTitan”

In essence, she wants to share her personal ‘why,’ which she learned in her years of experience.

“The reward really has been when the light bulb goes on for someone and they figure out, ‘Oh, it's my money; it's my responsibility. I can figure this out. I got this. I'll learn this,’” she said. “When they connect the dots so that they can make money.”

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